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Latest Cycling News, Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Date published:
July 08, 2009, 1:00 BST
  • Cervélo scramble for last minute fix

    Hmm, this doesn't look particularly good. Why all the fuss?
    Article published:
    July 08, 2009, 0:01 BST
    James Huang

    Mechanics make P4 modification for TTT

    Cervélo Test Team mechanics were seen scrambling about their pit area making some uncharacteristically last-minute modifications to each rider's Cervélo P4 – just barely two hours before their riders' scheduled start time.

    The problem appeared to center around the team's modified carbon fiber bottle cages, which apparently wouldn't hold on to the matching aero bottles tightly enough over stage 4's occasional bumps. The P4's stock proprietary bottle and cage system would have been fine in this respect but the team had heard that the UCI might take issue with its flush-fit design and instead went with an Elite aero system that the team tweaked to work.

    Those modifications wouldn't quite let the matching bottle fully snap into its receptacle as usual though and given the timing, removing and re-machining the short aluminum plates used to secure the cage to the frame wasn't an option. The solution? Short strips of adhesive-backed Velcro added in between the bottle and cage for tad extra grip – and of course, the team mechanics had some in the truck.

    An extra hole at the bottom plus a short aluminum stub is all that's required to secure the cage to the frame but that aluminum stub also apparently prevents the bottle from fully inserting into the cage.

    In the end, the team appears to have come across the finish line with all bottles on hand but the situation was obviously far from ideal. Rest assured though that the mechanics will have something more proper figured out before the final individual time trial around Lac d'Annecy on July 23.

  • Konovalovas signs for another three

    Lithuanian time trial champion Ignatas Konovalovas en route to winning the Giro's final stage in Rome.
    Article published:
    July 08, 2009, 0:37 BST
    Daniel Simms

    Cervélo TestTeam holds onto Lithuanian talent

    Lithuanian rider Ignatas Konovalovas has extendeded his contract with the Cervélo TestTeam for an additional three years, meaning his tenure runs until December 2012.

    Konovalovas sprung to prominence internationally when he won the final time trial of this year's Giro d'Italia; this contract renewal is confirmation that the team sees a bright future for the the 23-year-old.

    "I feel really confident with the Cervélo TestTeam," said Konovalovas. "The team gives me an ideal platform to develop myself and my performances over the next years. I can also learn a lot from the experienced riders like Carlos Sastre and Thor Hushovd. I couldn't have it any better."

    "We are pleased about the signing of Ignatas, who is definitely one of the most talented young time trial riders in professional cycling. Our goal together is it that he can develop his skills within a great team step by step and play a key role in time trials," said Cervélo TestTeam Managing Director Thomas Campana.

  • Hushovd wants win in Perpignan, predicts more wind

    Thor Hushovd has been in the mix this week, but so far Mark Cavendish has been too good.
    Article published:
    July 08, 2009, 7:19 BST
    Hedwig Kröner

    Cervélo expects a stage victory for Norwegian

    Norwegian rider Thor Hushovd is aiming at victory when he practically races on home turf today on the Tour de France’s 196.5 kilometre stage from Cap d'Agde to Perpignan. The tall Cervélo Test Team rider lived in the region when he was still with Crédit Agricole, and moved to Monaco three years ago.

    For this reason - but not only - Hushovd would love to win the fifth stage, which will likely finish in a sprint. "I know the region well, as I've lived six years just outside of Perpignan, in Le Boulou," Hushovd said. "I would really like to win the stage."

    The Norwegian predicted more wind for Wednesday, as what's known as the ‘Tramontane’ has been blowing in the region for the last two days. "The main difficulty tomorrow is the wind," Hushovd said. "It's almost all flat, there are only two small climbs beside Narbonne. But there will be lots of wind, which will make the stage very nervous and really fast. As a team, we'll have to stay in front."

    A surprising side wind and the team effort of Columbia-HTC split the bunch in two parts on Monday as it made its way to the coastal town of La Grande Motte. More echelons could occur tomorrow according to the Cervélo sprinter.

    "I think we will arrive in Perpignan for a sprint, but it's not certain that the bunch will be together," he said.

    Hushovd's main objective in the Tour is to repeat his 2005 overall victory of the green jersey competition, and add another stage win to his palmarès. Against Mark Cavendish, he admitted this was going to be difficult, but not impossible. He is very strong, but not unbeatable. Petacchi proved it at the Giro."

    Cervélo team manager Thomas Campana also expects Hushovd will bring the squad glory as the Tour continues. Despite Cavendish’s speed, Campana expects Hushovd will deliver.

    "I expect a stage victory from Thor. He's getting better and better and his condition is only...

  • Milram sponsor happy with team's media presence

    Team Milram in the 39km team time trial.
    Article published:
    July 08, 2009, 9:29 BST
    Susan Westemeyer

    Focus is on German's only top team

    Team Milram's sponsor Nordmilch AG is happy with its investment so far this season. Dairy company Nordmilch AG said that familiarity with its Milram brand name has increased, and “the investment has given us a good return.”

    Speaking to the German news magazine Die Welt, Nordmilch Marketing Director Claus Fischer said that this has all happened although there is less television coverage of racing in Germany. “We think it is because Milram is more in the focus than previously because it is the only German team.”

    Fischer said he “absolutely trusts several riders to get a stage win,” at the Tour de France. He said it is more important to have a noticeable team presence, which could be by having one of his riders in an escape group.

    Nordmilch AG's sponsorship contract runs through 2010. Fischer indicated that after the Tour his company would review its sponsorship.

  • Former Rabobank riders asked to testity in Vienna

    Rabobank ride at the front
    Article published:
    July 08, 2009, 11:26 BST
    Susan Westemeyer

    Boogerd, Dekker and Rasmussen

    Former Rabobank riders Thomas Dekker and Michael Boogerd have both been invited to Vienna to voluntarily testify in the Human Plasma blood centre doping investigation. Although their lawyer originally said that both would go to Vienna within the next two months as witnesses, not suspects, it now appears that neither will attend.

    "I want to contribute to the cause, but think it is too much to go to Vienna for an affair with which I have nothing to do," Boogerd told the Dutch newspaper De Telegraaf. He indicated that he would be happy to provide his testimony by telephone or in writing. Boogerd, 37, rode for Rabobank from 1996 until his retirement after the 2007 season.

    Dekker's comment was even shorter. "I have never been in Vienna."

    Dekker, 24, left Rabobank last August and rode with team Silence-Lotto this season. He was put on the inactive list earlier this month after the disclosure of a positive test for blood booster EPO in December 2007.

    Former Rabobank rider Michael Rasmussen is expected to testify next month before the authorities in Vienna. He wore the yellow jersey at the 2007 Tour de France until the team asked him to leave after problems with his whereabouts were revealed.

    Tuesday evening, Rabobank announced that Denis Menchov, Joost Posthuma and Pieter Weening had testified voluntarily last month.

  • Ballan and teammates suffer in team test

    Alessandro Ballan (Lampre-NGC)
    Article published:
    July 08, 2009, 11:39 BST
    Gregor Brown

    Lampre's hard day in Montpellier

    Alessandro Ballan, world champion on the road, crashed early in Tour de France's team time trial in Montpellier, on Tuesday. He and teammate David Loosli slid out on the stage's second corner, a left-hand bend.

    "Ballan has grazes on his left side, especially on the elbow and on the hip. Loosli didn't have wounds," said team doctor, Matteo Beltemacchi.

    Ballan missed much of the spring due to a virus. He returned to racing in the Memorial Pantani on June 6, and raced the Tour de Suisse and Italian Championships prior to the Tour de France.

    He is at the Tour de France to try to win a stage in the second or third week.

    Ballan and Loosli re-joined their teammates to finish the 39-kilometre time trial, but there was another crash 25 kilometres to go. Angelo Furlan slid and Marzio Bruseghin ran into the back of him.

    "We had to face two crashes, three bike changes and Bruseghin is in not perfect shape – I think that all caused us a loss of two minutes," said Directeur Sportif Fabrizio Bontempi.

    Bruseghin crashed and injured his wrist and knee on day two. He is the team's classification rider and should ride the strongest in the seven mountain stages.

    The team finished 17th despite the crashes, 3:25 behind the winning time of team Astana.

  • Rooijakkers' surgery successful

    Piet Rooijakkers is treated after his crash in the Tour's stage 4 TTT in Montpellier
    Article published:
    July 08, 2009, 12:32 BST
    Richard Tyler

    Two to three months out after TTT crash

    Piet Rooijakkers (Skil-Shimano) abandoned the Tour de France Tuesday due to a crash and multiple injuries in the stage four team time trial in Montpellier.

    Rooijakkers suffered a triple fracture to his left arm, a broken finger and contusions to his head and left shoulder. Medics took him the nearby University Hospital Lapeyronie where he had a seven-hour operation to repair his arm fractures.

    Skil-Shimano said that the surgery was a success. Rooijakkers, 28, will spend at least two days recovering in hospital before he returns home to the Netherlands. The team expects his recovery to take up to twelve weeks.

    Rooijakkers' crash was one of a number that occurred during Tuesday's team time trial. A number of riders and observers were critical of the technical 39-kilometre course.

    Skil-Shimano finished the team time trial 20th place, 5:23 down on the winning time of Astana.

    Rooijakkers is the second rider to abandon this year's Tour de France. Belgian, Jurgen Van De Walle (Quick Step), broke his collarbone and punctured a lung in Sunday's stage two to Brignoles.

  • Luis León Sánchez takes stock after the Tour's opening days

    Luis Leon Sanchez Gil (Caisse d'Epargne).
    Article published:
    July 08, 2009, 12:53 BST
    Gregor Brown

    Spaniard looks towards mountain stages

    Spaniard, Luis León Sánchez, looks towards this weekend's mountain stages after losing over three minutes in the first four stages of the Tour de France.

    "I am a little disappointed with the first stages because of my lack of rhythm, but I am beginning to get the rhythm of the race in my legs," said Sánchez after Tuesday's team time trial in Montpellier.

    Sánchez helped team Caisse d'Epargne finish in seventh, 1:29 back from the winning time of Astana. The team finished with eight men after Arnaud Coyot eased up 17 kilometres into the 39-kilometre stage. Officials take the time on the fifth team member to cross the line.

    Sánchez finished 1:48 behind in the opening day's time trial on Saturday and lost 41 seconds to Lance Armstrong on Monday's stage three. He is currently three minutes and 18 seconds back behind the race leader, Fabian Cancellara (Saxo Bank).

    "I know that I am able to do much better. I am now waiting for the mountain stages to be in front with the best riders."

    The Tour de France, July 4 to 26, travels into the high mountains Friday. Riders will face a 224-kilometre stage that ends with the ascent of the Arcalís climb. Saturday and Sunday contain mountain passes over 2000 metres, but neither features a mountain top finish.

    Sánchez won this year's Paris-Nice stage race thanks to a strong performance on the tough mountain stage to Fayence. He also won the Méditerranéen Tour earlier in the year.

    He finished 59th in last year's Tour de France and is one of Caisse d'Epargne's team leaders this year in the absence of Alejandro Valverde.